RADNOR >> It’s nice for a coach to be able to make choices.
Radnor High girls lacrosse coach Brooke Fritz went with one of her many defensive options Saturday as the third-seeded Raiders hosted No. 6 Pope John Paul II in the second round of the District 1 Class 2A tournament.
Radnor (13-7) pitched a shutout for the first half on its way to a 16-4 victory, which advanced the Raiders to a district semifinal meeting with No. 2 Gwynedd Mercy Tuesday and also meant that they will be in the field for the first PIAA Class 2A state tourney.
By halftime, Radnor had an 11-2 advantage in draw controls, owned a 12-0 lead, and had outshot Pope John Paul II, 21-4.
“We went with our third defense, which we don’t do very often,” Fritz said. “The way things were going in that first half, we were confident staying with it.
“We also wanted to work hard on our draws, and we did a great job of that in this game.”
Pope John Paul II head coach Maureen Burger knew that in Radnor, which lost the 2016 PIAA championship game to Conestoga, her team would be facing a major challenge.
“They’re much better than a No. 3 seed,” Burger said. “They are so fast.
“But I’m thrilled with our season. We went further than we’ve ever gone (in the playoffs). We lose some key seniors, but I believe we’re going to continue to improve. A lot of them will be playing in the summer, and that will help them get better. And we’ll have some freshmen coming in who will help us to improve.”
Junior Monica Rapchinski, who scored her 200th career goal earlier in the season and had nine goals against Chichester in Wednesday’s playoff-opening win, got a pair of goals, and Lauren Bello chipped in with a goal and an assist for Pope John Paul II.
Senior Julianne Puckette scored five goals and added an assist for Radnor. Senior Nicole Massimino contributed a pair of goals and an assist, freshman Ellie Mueller, who had five draw controls, also scored twice, and sophomore Cate Cox added one goal and three assists.
“We didn’t know much about that team, so we just wanted to go out fast from the start,” Puckette said. “We knew we had to work off the ball to get open and couldn’t be tentative.”
Senior Allison Lanzone scored a goal off a feed from Cox in the second half and was among the defenders who helped limit Pope John Paul II (13-7) to 12 shots.
“Groundballs are so important,” Lanzone said. “That’s where we can transition from defense to midfield and get the ball to our attack and give people like (Puckette) the chance to score goals.”
Radnor won the first two PIAA girls lacrosse championship games and has lost in its last two trips to the final. To get to the first Class 2A title contest, the Raiders would have to get through a PIAA bracket that has all four District 1 teams positioned to play each other in the first three rounds.
“We’re happy to be going to states, but we’re just thinking about one game at a time,” Fritz said. “And the next game is against Gwynedd Mercy.”